A very Grand Bazaar.

Istanbul Travel Blog

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Hmmm...where to start?
Mindful of yesterday’s crowds, we determined to get a head start over them and leave earlier today. We exited the apartment at a respectable 9am. Unfortunately, we then had 30-minute wait for the bus, plus the transfer to the tram… so we didn’t get to our destination, the Grand Bazaar, until 10:30.  

Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar is a collection of about 4000 shops and cafes. It’s like a really big, sprawling, single-level shopping mall. It was built originally in 1450-ish, but has been nearly destroyed by fire twice since then, so I believe the structure (stone or tile floor, archways, wide halls and narrow passages, fountains) is newer… although it looks old. I was surprised to walk into the main archway and find a soaring ceiling, wide hall, and such a grand space…I was expecting a rabbit warren, maybe a dirt floor, and narrow alleys, kind of like I experienced in Morocco.
Rug guy, looking for his next victim...
This was quite different, and very nice.

We hadn’t been there 30 seconds before we were invited to tea … and oh, maybe we’d like to look at some rugs, too. Then again, 2 minutes later! We quickly figured out that we needed to put away the map and just make our way steadily through. We were invited to take a closer look many times, but always the vendors were polite, and no one persisted after receiving a smile and a “no, thank you.”

It turns out we had beat the crowds after all, as the place had a charged “pre-festivity” feel, like everyone was getting ready for a big party. The temperature was cool and comfortable, and Steve and I really enjoyed browsing and getting lost in the maze.

As we strolled along, Steve had his eye out for a mandolin. He has been looking for a cheap one to buy for the road.
Steve buys a mandolin from Dr. Evil's twin.
One place seemed to have a nice selection, but they were busy with other customers and ignored us. Further on, Steve paused at a small shop. The guy had a few instruments, and one was a mandolin. What followed was a friendly banter about quality and price, and a little back and forth on this and that, always with respect and a tinge of humor. In the end, Steve had his mandolin and was satisfied with the price, the man was happy with the sale, and I got two free “evil eye” charms. So everyone walked away happy. The whole thing was a lot of fun.     

For lunch, we went to Havuzlu, within the Grand Bazaar. Our host spoke eight languages and could even imitate a Texan accent. He kept coming over to check on us…”howdy folks, are y’all doing OK over here?”  Very funny.
Istanbul University campus.
The menu prices did not seem that high, and he served us tea for no charge… so how did we end up with another $40 lunch!?  We think we need to stop going into restaurants and start eating from street vendors. There is a small issue with that though, as I think it’s hard to find vegetarian street food.

We strolled some more, but it was getting really busy and hot. Time to head out.

From there we walked by the Beyazit Camii (mosque) on our way to Suleymaniye Camii (Mosque of Suleyman).  And since the University of Istanbul was on the way, we detoured through the campus. It had a wide path and lots of shady trees, so we lingered there. I wandered around the grounds, while Steve parked himself on a bench to tune his mandolin.
Mosque of Suleyman. We could see it but we couldn't get to it.
Nice rest stop.

From there, we exited the campus and could see the Mosque of Suleyman, but were blocked from entering by a wall. There appeared to be funeral progression in the front courtyard. We spied on this awhile, walked this way and that way… and then gave up. It was getting hot and it felt like time to go home.

The commute back to our apartment was pretty horrendous. It took nearly two hours due to the traffic snarls along the way. I love the apartment and our view of the Bosphorus, but I sure wish it was a little closer to the action. Tomorrow we will avoid the commute and pursue activities a little closer to home.
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Hmmm...where to start?
Hmmm...where to start?
Rug guy, looking for his next vict…
Rug guy, looking for his next vic…
Steve buys a mandolin from Dr. Evi…
Steve buys a mandolin from Dr. Ev…
Istanbul University campus.
Istanbul University campus.
Mosque of Suleyman. We could see i…
Mosque of Suleyman. We could see …
Early morning light.
Early morning light.
Early morning light on our bridg…
Early morning light on "our" brid…
Entrance to the Grand Bazaar.
Entrance to the Grand Bazaar.
There are over 4,000 shops in the …
There are over 4,000 shops in the…
Well-merchandised scarves.
Well-merchandised scarves.
Grand Bazaars main street.
Grand Bazaar's main street.
Jewelry for sale in the Grand Baza…
Jewelry for sale in the Grand Baz…
Fun-ky hats.
Fun-ky hats.
I am in love with these crazy hats.
I am in love with these crazy hats.
Patriotic alleyway in the Grand Ba…
Patriotic alleyway in the Grand B…
Beyazit Camii (mosque).
Beyazit Camii (mosque).
Gateway to education.
Gateway to education.
Beyazit Tower, built in 1823. On I…
Beyazit Tower, built in 1823. On …
Guys doing one of those funny pict…
Guys doing one of those funny pic…
Building at Istanbul University.
Building at Istanbul University.
Istanbul University.
Istanbul University.
A peek at Istanbul University.
A peek at Istanbul University.
Mosque of Suleyman, appears to be …
Mosque of Suleyman, appears to be…
Istanbul
photo by: Memo